Friday, March 9, 2007

This Old Dog

Ok, I really do think that the whole of the world can be understood by watching the right 'Sex and the City' episode. Well, let me rephrase that. The whole of the moment...I don't know what I'm saying. I just get that show, and it gets me. And teaches me with its witty little parables.

Last night, the episode called "Old Dog, New Tricks" was on. Carrie and Mr. Big had broken up for awhile, and they were trying it again...but the same old things that irritated her before were irritating her again. So the question was, "Can you change a man?"

Big was always checking out other women when he was with Carrie, he was half an hour late to meet her, he wouldn't give her a key to his place, he wouldn't stay one night in her place, he always smoked cigars...she had a long list of complaints. The cigars thing was small, but the rest said a lot about how important she was to him. Finally, he rolled over in bed and knocked her to the floor. And she was fed up. He didn't even make room for her in bed, as though he didn't even know she was there.

At the end of the episode, he finally conceded to spend a night at her apartment. And I was upset. That was all he gave her? That seemed like such a little thing, though it was big to him, it was insignificant compared to the fact that he wasn't letting her be a part of his life.

All the while, Miranda and her boyfriend were having problems because they were on two different schedules, and it was hard to make time for each other. In the end, Miranda changed and made room for the guy. The closing narration said, "You may not be able to change a man, but once in a blue moon, you can change a woman." I was so unsettled.

Can people really change?

Sometimes I feel like if you're used to someone being a certain way - selfish, moody, inconsiderate - then you'll always expect them to be like that. Even if you're trying not to, you find evidence that they still exhibit that same old terrible behavior. And maybe that's because some people never change, because they can't ever change fully. I don't know.

Some people didn't like that Carrie ended up with Mr. Big in the series finale. They didn't find it realistic. I liked it because it's not realistic. It's fiction, it's a fantasy world where men who are cold and selfish and emotionally distant like Big change. And become that sweet, romantic hero who sacrifices things (like moving across the country) to make it work with his woman. I want to believe that can happen. It probably can't, though. And certainly doesn't. But it's nice to see it happen in a silly little TV show since most likely, we'll never see it happen in real life.

You might be able to change someone from being habitually late to being on time. Or change a smoker into a non-smoker. But you can't teach a man how to treat a woman right or teach him how to be nice. You can't turn a selfish, cold narcissist like Big into a kind, considerate person. Life can change him, maybe, but you can't.

So men can't change. But women can. And we can change that desire to be with a man who doesn't satisfy our needs, who doesn't give us what we deserve and want. The only old dog who can learn new tricks is ourselves. We can learn and improve - we can change, even if they can't. Or won't. Or just don't.


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